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Terrific live Muddy Waters!
on February 14, 2009
Muddy Waters at the Newport Jazz Festival. Seems like a match made in heaven! And, indeed, this is a fine live work, featuring some of Waters' greatest hits. One interesting feature is four extra tracks from studio recordings. Three of these are also sung at Newport, so some interesting comparisons can be made.
The band: Muddy Waters (born McKinley Morganfield), vocals and guitar; James Cotton, harmonica; Otis Spann, piano and vocals on "Goodbye Newport Blues"; Pat Hare, guitar; Andrew Stephenson, bass; Francey Clay, drums; Langston Hughes, Emcee and lyrics for "Goodbye Newport Blues."
A few samples of the music. . . .
The lead song is "I got my brand on you." The blues sound from the band is, for want of a better word, exquisite. Classic blues. The opening lines:
"I got my brand on you
There ain't nothin' you can do."
The sound is wonderful.
Then, one of his all-time greats--""I'm your hoochie coochie man." The opening lines--
"The gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born.
You got a boy child comin'
Gonna be a son of a gun."
Once more, great blues licks from guitar and band. Waters' voice is in fine form indeed.
Another classic, "I've got my mojo working." This starts with the rollicking piano work of Otis Spann. Cool lyrics at the outset:
"I've got my mojo working
But it don't work on you."
Another terrific live version of one of his classics.
"Goodbye Newport Blues." Because of a riot, the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival shut down early and was suspended for awhile. Langston Hughes, the poet, jotted some lyrics about the unfortunate close of the event. Otis Spann sang those lyrics in this piece. A couple lines give a sense of the sentiments in the lyrics:
"Oh what a gloomy day in Newport.
Everything is sad, sad, sad."
In the final analysis, this is a satisfying experience. The live songs are played with energy and style. And comparing the live versions with three studio versions is itself an interesting sidebar here. Want to get a sense of Muddy Waters live? This isn't a bad place to check.